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Which preposition?

Using Prepositions in Writing Task 1

Choose the right preposition to complete the sentences below:

  • for
  • of
  • to
  • as
  • by
  • down
  • in
  • over
  • no word

Sentence Completion

  1. The number of sales rose …….. 5,000 from 20,000 to 25,000.
  2. The percentage of boys playing sport was 45% as opposed ……… girls at 30%.
  3. While, the sales fell ……… to 150 in 1990, they rose again to 300 by 2010.
  4. The sales in December accounted …… about 50% of the total annual sales.
  5. There was a downward trend in the number of people visiting online stores ….. a period of three months.


The answers are now available for this lesson.

For answers, click here: Answers to this lesson

All the best


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IELTS Complex Table 2017

Below is a model answer for an IELTS complex table for writing task 1. It is not common to be given a table with so many categories and numbers. But this model essay will help you understand how to organise the information.

IELTS Complex Table

Download a word doc of this table by clicking: IELTS Complex Table


Source: IELTS Liz

Band 9 Model Answer

This model answer was provided by Tony Grace, experienced IELTS tutor. See below for his website link.

The tables illustrate the proportion of people assessing six aspects of one city’s life as good, average, or bad, in 1980 and 2010.

Overall, healthcare, education, and the environment were given the highest scores in both years, and transport facilities received the lowest.  Meanwhile, education’s rating rose over the period, while that of transportation fell.

In 1980, people rated healthcare, education, and the environment the highest, with over 80% approving of healthcare, while the other two had figures of 72%.  Under 10% of respondents thought these three services were bad.  As for shopping and unemployment, both had similar figures, as 62-64% expressed approval, and 22-24% said they were average.   Only a half of those surveyed gave a high score to transportation, with roughly a third stating it was bad.

Turning to 2010, the most significant changes were seen in education, as over 80% were happy with it, and in healthcare whose good rating fell to 74%.  The employment situation improved, as in 2010, almost three-quarters of those asked expressed satisfaction.  In contrast, approval of the transport facilities fell to 39%, and a similar proportion stated it was bad.  Finally, with regard to the environment and shopping, their approval levels both remained relatively unchanged.

IELTS Writing Task 1 Links

You can visit Tony’s website and see more tips: www.succeedinielts.com

You can find more model answers, tips and free videos for writing task 1 by clicking here: IELTS Writing Task 1 

See writing task 1 band score tips: Band Scores 5 to 8 Tips


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Useful Links for IELTS Line Graphs in WT1

Useful tips and link for vocabulary, content & paragraphs for IELTS writing task 1 line graphs.

Below I have listed some useful links to learn about IELTS line graphs. Line graphs are quite common in IELTS writing task 1.

There are six types of IELTS writing task 1 for the academic paper:

  1. line graph
  2. bar chart
  3. table
  4. map
  5. diagram
  6. pie charts

Sample IELTS Line Graph

Source: IELTS Cambridge English Test Books

You must prepare for all types of charts in academic writing task 1. You might also be given a combination of a line graph with a table for example. Writing task 1 is worth about 33% of your total writing marks so it’s worth learning well.

Tips for IELTS Line Graphs

Here are some useful tips for Line Graphs:

  1. Introduce the time frame and individual categories
  2. the overview will contain the main trends over the whole period  – a bird’s eye view
  3. use language of change for line graphs: increase, drop, fluctuate etc (see below)
  4. vary your sentence structures: “the number of sales decreased over the period / there was a decrease in the number of sales …”
  5. support sentences in the body paragraphs with data – time frame and numbers
  6. don’t spend more than 20 mins on task 1
  7. make sure you have four paragraphs (occasionally five are possible)
  8. don’t overload your writing with small details – be selective
  9. aim for between 160 and 180 words
  10. task 1 is a report, not an essay

IELTS Line Graph Lessons

Click on the links below to access the pages to learn about line graphs:

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WT1 Table 30th Sept: To be completed

You can find a student’s copy of the writing task 1 table from 30th September (2 days ago)  in the link below:

However, the table is not accurate and it has not been completed.

If you took the test on Sept 30th, please can you complete the table and email it to me? ieltsliz789@gmail.com. That way, I will be able to write a model answer for it.

Word Doc: WT1 Table 30 Sept Incomplete



Where can you plan your essay for IELTS writing?

Hi guys,

A lot of students have asked me if they can get extra paper to write a plan for their IELTS writing task 1 and writing task 2. They want to know what paper they can use for planning.

Planning is an essential part of your writing. 50% of your marks is based on choosing information, deciding how to present it and planning organisation. This means all ideas need to be planned in full before you start writing. See this page about Tips for IELTS Essay Planning.  You can find the marking criteria for writing task 2 on this page: IELTS Writing Task 2 Band Score

Where can you plan your essay?

The answer is that you use your question paper to write your plan.

At the end of your test, you will hand in your question paper. BUT the examiner will not see it and it will not be marked. So, you need to use the question paper to plan your writing for task 1 and task 2.

Please share any of your tips or experience for essay planning in the comments box below:

Answers to IELTS Writing Task 1 Synonyms Exercise

Hi guys,

Here are the answers to yesterday’s exercise about using synonyms in IELTS writing task 1. I think it was a good exercise because I see many students have different answers and are unclear about collocations. Mistakes in vocabulary will lower your score.

Let me know if the lesson was useful 🙂


Are the verbs correct in the sentences below? Are they Right or Wrong?

  1. More boys than girls enjoyed sport.
  2. Fewer girls participated in tennis than boys.
  3. Almost twice the number of boys played cycling.
  4. More girls took part in swimming compared to boys.
  5. The majority of boys engaged in football.
  6. More girls competed in badminton than boys.


  1. W = Wrong. The chart is about playing sport but about enjoying it. The chart does not give information about how boys or girls felt. This would be marked as a mistake.
  2. R = Right. The verb “participate in” works well as a synonyms for “play” when referring to sport.
  3. W = Wrong. The verb “play” is not possible with the noun “cycling”. This is a mistake with vocabulary – an incorrect collocation. When writing or talking about cycling, we can use the verb “do”.
  4. R = Right. The verb “take part in” works well as a paraphrase for “play” in this context.
  5. W = Wrong. The verb “engage” is incorrect when writing about sport.
  6. W = Wrong. The verb “compete” is about competitions. This chart is about playing sports, not competing in sports. This would be marked as a vocabulary mistake.


You can see that paraphrasing is about deciding if nouns and verbs match. It is about understanding the context. It is about choosing correctly.  Some words will be repeated – this is normal in English.

Paraphrasing Video

Watch this video to learn more about being careful with paraphrases.

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IELTS Writing Task 1 Syonyms Practice Exercise

It is important to use synonyms in IELTS writing task 1. Paraphrasing will help you get a higher band score for writing task 1. However, you need to be careful not to make mistakes.

Look at the chart below and then answer the questions.

IELTS Bar Chart Synonyms

Synonyms Practice Exercise

The bar chart above is about “playing sport”. The list of sports are: tennis, badminton, cycling, swimming, football and hockey.  The verbs below are in past tense as the date is 2012.

Decide if the following synonyms are Right (R) or Wrong (W).

  1. More boys than girls enjoyed sport.   (enjoyed sport = Right or Wrong?)
  2. Fewer girls participated in tennis than boys. (participated in tennis = R or W?)
  3. Almost twice the number of boys played cycling. (played cycling = R or W?)
  4. More girls took part in swimming compared to boys. (took part in swimming – R or W?)
  5. The majority of boys engaged in football. (engaged in football- R or W?)
  6. More girls competed in badminton than boys. (competed in badminton = R or W?)


See the answers: Click here: Answers to this Exercise

To see model answers and tips for IELTS writing task 1, click: IELTS Writing Task 1 Page

Opening Line for IELTS GT Letter WT1

The opening line in IELTS General Training Writing Task 1 Letter. You need to change the opening line for your letter depending on whether you are writing formally, to a company or another organisation, or if you are writing informally, for example to a friend.

Below are some sample opening lines for an IELTS GT writing task 1 letter: both formal and informal. You can also read how the opening statement sets the tone of your IELTS letter.

Formal Letter Opening Statement

In a formal letter, the opening sentence should indicate the aim of your letter. The first line of a formal letter will show if you are writing a complaint letter, requesting information, answering an invitation, applying for a position, making a formal apology or making arrangements. You will also see that the letter might start “Dear Sir” or Dear Mr …”. IELTS will give you instructions on your test paper about how to start your letter.

Below is are examples of how to begin your letter:

Dear Sir / Madam,

I am writing to complain about … / to request information about … / to apply for … / to enquiry after ….  / to inform you … /  to thank you …

Full Opening Statement: I am writing to apply for the position of manager in your company which you recently advertised in the Times newspaper on June 4th.

Dear Mr Brown,

I am writing to you regarding my recent stay at your hotel … / regarding an article you wrote …. / 

Full Opening Statement: I am writing to you regarding the road works that are being carried out in Church Street, where I currently reside.

Dear Mrs Jones,

I am writing in reply to … 

Full Opening Statement: I am writing in reply to your invitation to the seminar which you will be holding on “Historical Artefacts in the Ancient World” on Saturday, June 26th.

Comments: You can see, above, that the first line of your IELTS formal letter is very structured. There is little variety. This is normal. Formal letters are not creative or descriptive, they are informative and without personal reference.

Informal Letter Opening Line

In an IELTS informal letter, your first line will often start with a friendly remark or comment. The beginning of the letter doesn’t always show the aim, it shows your relationship with the person. This means there is a variety you can choose from.

See some examples below for the beginning of an informal IELTS letter:

Hi Dave,

How are you and your family? It feels like forever since we last got together for a catch up … / How are things going? It’s been ages since we were last in touch.

Hi Sophie,

How are you? It was great seeing you again this summer.

Hi Frank,

It was so good seeing you last weekend. I just wanted to drop you a line and thank you for such a great time.

Comments: You can see that most of the opening lines are offering greetings or just small talk. It’s a chance to for you reestablish your friendship before getting into the aims of the letter.

Signing Off IELTS Letters

To learn about signing off, for example Your faithfully or Your sincerely, please see my essential tips page: IELTS Letter Essential Tips. You can also learn about types of IELTS letters and much more useful information.

More IELTS General Training Lessons

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